It's hard to believe it's been a year since the pandemic completely changed our lives. Last year we had both our highest sales and as a result we are now at our lowest stock levels since we launched in 2013! And like many other parents - we managed all of that with 2 kids at home remote learning! For many people, us included, life is beginning to return to a new normal. But there are many lasting impacts throughout the world that are still affecting the way we do business.
December 2020 - Jofi, our "warehouse" dog in Poland, fast asleep after working so hard to prep those nutcrackers for shipping!
As many people know, all of our products are made by small businesses in Poland. We then gather those products together into one container to self import into the United States. We started working on our latest shipment in December. With the holidays and the continued impact of COVID-19 on small business worldwide, our artisans weren't able to fulfill our orders until late January. We contacted the shipping company to arrange for a container to be delivered to load up all those products, only to discover there was a shortage in Poland and the next container wouldn't be available for a month! Luckily, we didn't have to wait that long and the shipment left our facility in southern Poland on February 4!
February 4, 2021 - All packed up and ready to make the long journey across the ocean!
Typically once a container leaves our warehouse in Poland it takes about 4-6 weeks to get to our facility in the Chicago suburbs. However, once the shipment arrived at the port we learned that ships leaving Poland for the US were all booked for the next 2 weeks! So we waited impatiently for the container to finally make it on the ship on February 19. The ship is currently making it's way across the ocean and hopefully will have smooth sailing!
With all of these delays, it is taking much longer than normal to restock the website. We know it's frustrating for our customers (and us!), since we are at our lowest stock levels with many items sold out. Right now, the shipping company is estimating that the container will arrive at the very end of March. But with all the delays we've seen so far, it could be into the beginning of April before we can restock.
The good news is we ordered double our typical quantities for this shipments in the hope that we can avoid selling out again soon! But as always, we recommend ordering soon after the restock if you have your heart set on a specific item. We will likely have longer order processing times once the items do arrive as we anticipate a high order volume. Of course, you can always email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or special requests and we will see what we can do!
So, if you've been anxiously awaiting this container to finally get here - we are right there with you! And if you want to be the first to know when it arrives, be sure to sign up to be notified when we restock on the individual item's product page.
Wow - what a year 2020 has been. I will try not to say "unprecedented" too many times as that's all we hear these days, but unfortunately that's just the best word to describe this year! I'm not sure about anyone else, but I can say that I am thankful that we are in November and hope that as the year ends perhaps many of our current struggles can be left behind as well!
Emily preparing for our 1st Holiday Season in 2013!
But since this is November that also means we are preparing for another holiday season, despite still struggling with the implications of a global pandemic! This year will be our 8th holiday season and it's sure to be an interesting one. With so many changes in the world this year, I wanted to get our holiday updates/information out early. As we see continued delays for shipping times and supply chain struggles across the retail industry, this year it's even more important to plan ahead!
Our last shipment arrived at the end of September and we won't be restocking again until early spring 2021. Luckily, we were able to restock almost all of our out or stock items and most of our purchase orders were fulfilled by our artisans. Unfortunately, some of those items have already sold out and many others will sell out soon. If you have your eye on something and you can afford to purchase it now, I highly recommend doing so! Of course, you can always email me (email@example.com) to check on the stock of an item if you need a little more time.
In the past we have offered a holiday shipping deadline and guaranteed delivery of items before Christmas as long as orders were placed before that date. Over the past couple of years UPS and USPS moved their guaranteed delivery dates earlier and earlier in December, but we kept ours within about 10 days of Christmas and didn't have any issues. However, this year we just don't feel comfortable offering a similar shipping deadline. We have all seen the shipping industry struggle to keep up with increased demand as well as employee exposure issues due to the pandemic.
Here at Stone Creek Trading we have been able to keep our processing time largely unchanged. We have had to occasionally stretch some orders to up to 3-4 days processing time, but for the most part have stayed consistent with our typical 1-2 days. We hope to keep with this shipping turn around on our end, but as the positivity rate continues to rise in our area we are being proactive in encouraging customers to order as early as possible! We will keep following our COVID-19 safety protocols that have thus far kept the Stone Creek Trading family safe and hope that it continues to this winter.
In light of everything going on, we've decided to tell our customers to just order early! If one of our exclusive Made in Poland products is on the top of your shopping list this year, get your order in as soon as you can!
It's been a difficult year for so many across the world. I know our small family business's holiday plan might not be the top priority for many people right now and understand that. But if we are a part of your holiday plans this year - Thank You! We appreciate the support now and always.
Emily & Kryz
I'm excited to introduce a new product today! Over the years we have collected a variety of fermenting crocks that we aren't able to sell. A few years ago we started selling crocks with exterior flaws as Factory Second Fermenting Crocks. These have been very popular and have allowed us to offer imperfect but functional fermenting crocks at a lower price point.
However, we have also amassed a collection of crocks with flaws on the interior as well. These flaws make the crocks unusable for fermenting - which means we haven't been able to sell them. We are always trying to find alternative uses for defective products rather than adding to the landfill. A few years ago I asked our followers for ideas on how to use these flawed crocks and received a lot of great ideas! We have tried out some of these ideas around our home, and now we are making these crocks available for our customers as well!
We are calling these Factory Second crocks Dry Storage Crocks. They have many uses as storage for dry materials - but the interior glaze flaws mean they most likely will not hold liquids as needed for fermenting. You can see an example in the photo above where two small areas on the bottom of the crock as missing the glaze. You can read more about the Dry Storage Crocks in the product listing here. As always, if you have questions feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Because these crocks can't be used for fermenting and don't include weights, we are offering them at only $20-$25 each! Like all of our Factory Second products, we have limited stock of these crocks. We typically only have 1-2 of each style available. So if see one you want, don't hesitate to order it or you may miss out!
We can't wait to see the ideas you come up with for our Factory Second - Dry Storage Crocks!
Stone Creek Trading has been in business since 2013. In the beginning, we often sold out of products for months at a time (but also had other products that were in stock for years) as we learned what worked and what didn't. After 7 years, we thought we had finally got the hang of it and weren't seeing the long lead times to restock popular products. But this year is all about the "unprecedented"!
We were so excited when our shipment arrived almost 2 months ago! We were finally able to restock the website and get our products out to all of you! But within a few days we knew that stock wouldn't last long. We immediately began working with our artisans in Poland to see how quickly we could get another container full of fermenting supplies shipped to us here in the States. The good news is, many of our artisans were happy to have more work and were able to quickly produce more products. The bad news is, it still takes time to import goods across the ocean!
Currently, we have products in our warehouse in Poland ready to ship from all but one manufacturer. But of course, the one we are waiting on is the one in most demand right now! As soon as that order is fulfilled we will work as fast as we can to get them here to our customers. Once the container ships, it typically takes 4-6 weeks before we receive it at our facility in Illinois. Optimistically that would put as in late September at the earliest, but realistically we are looking at October sometime before it arrives.
This will be likely be our last shipment in 2020. It takes at least 3 months to put together an order, have it manufactured and shipped to the US. In order to have items in hand for the holiday season, we always need things here by November at the latest. The holiday season is also the busiest time for importing, which means it takes longer to work through the system, and shipments are often delayed. Because of these reasons, we likely won't restock again until 2021.
It may seem early, but because this is our last restocking for 2020, if you have your heart set on an item for the holidays, we recommend ordering early! We will likely sell out of popular products again before December. When our last shipment arrived in late June, one product sold out in less than 24 hrs. Many others only lasted a week! It's hard to plan ahead right now with so many uncertainties, we just don't want to disappoint our customers if we sell out again quickly.
As we all grapple with a global pandemic and what it means for our lives and the world, I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you for supporting us on this journey. We are blessed to have a thriving business which allows us to continue working to support our family when so many others cannot. Operating a small business is never easy work, but this pandemic has added even more challenges. Your continued support of our company is deeply appreciated. Whether you have purchased from us in the past, plan to in the future or never do -
It's finally here! After many delays (mostly related to COVID-19), our shipment from Poland has arrived and we've restocked the website!
As noted in our previous blog post, we had originally started working on this shipment of products back in February before the pandemic surged here in the United States. Because we work with small businesses, our suppliers typically need about 2 months to custom make the items we order. However, those timelines extended with stay at home orders shutting down most of Poland. Some suppliers shut down indefinitely, luckily right after they delivered their products to our Polish facility! Others weren't able to produce everything we ordered.
Almost done unloading! Of course it was the hottest day we've had this summer!
In the end, we had to ship the container with only a fraction of the products we had originally planned for. In addition, some products weren't ordered at all as our current stock levels would have lasted several months during "normal" times! So even though we just restocked the website, you will see that many items are still out of stock or may have already sold out. Trust me, it's just as frustrating for us as it is for you!
So good to see this space filling up with products again!
The good news is we are already working on the next order, hopefully arriving at the end on the summer/early fall. The timeline of the next shipment will depend a lot on how fast things sell right now. So if you see something you want, order it now - before it sells out again!
We've had a lot of questions lately about when products will be restocked. We have been working on a new shipment for several months, but the current global pandemic is making this process even more complicated than usual!
We've seen a large increase in orders over the last month, which is wonderful - thank you!! But it also means that we are selling out of products even faster than anticipated. I guess many of you have been using this extra time at home to expand or start a new fermenting hobby!
With all the new orders, we have some new customers here as well - welcome! If you are new, you might not know that we operate differently than most other small e-commerce companies. We self import all of the products we sell from small businesses in Poland. Most of our artisans can't afford to export their products on their own, so we gather all the items together into one large shipment to make it more affordable. To keep our prices low, we only import 2-3 large shipments each year. All of this means that items are only restocked 2-3 times each year, instead of continuously like most websites. It also means it might be several months before an item is restocked, and that most products will be restocked all at once.
Our artisans have been working over the last few months to manufacture the products we have ordered for the next shipment. We originally had planned to have all the products completed by the end of this month and shipping out from Poland at the beginning of May. On a typical schedule, this would have resulted in the products arriving at the end of May or beginning of June.
However, as everyone knows our world has been turned upside down over the last 6 weeks. Poland is currently on lockdown, with activities limited to essential business only. The borders are currently closed for travel, although it should not effect commercial shipping. Like us, many of our artisans are small businesses who rely on selling their products to stay afloat. With the travel restrictions currently in place, many of these companies are struggling to stay open without business from tourism. We have already had two of our artisans who have decided to temporarily close for the remainder of the year after fulfilling our orders.
Our facility in Poland* continues to work towards shipping out the products as soon as possible while putting the health of our workers and community first. Many of the products are already in our possession, but we are still waiting on a few manufacturers to complete their orders. We are doing our best to continue our normal shipment process as safely as possible. However, the pandemic restrictions are resulting in a longer lead time for many of our artisans.
For our part, we still anticipate being able to ship the container in May, it just might be a little later in the month than we had planned. After that, it's really anyone's guess as to how long it will take to get here to the United States. Typical transit time from Poland to our facility in Illinois is 4-6 weeks. The container travels by truck, train, ship, train and truck again before it gets to us, and also must clear customs in both Poland and the US. If any one of those systems is impacted by COVID-19 it could cause delays.
If we've learned anything as small business owners it is that there are many things that we cannot control. It's a lesson everyone is learning right now. So if you want to know when we will be restocking the website all I can say is - as soon as we safely can!
*As a side note - As of now, Poland has been doing remarkably well as far as the spread of COVID-19. They currently have much lower rates of infection and death than many other European nations. As we have many family members living in Poland this is incredibly important to us personally.
What a strange time we are living in right now. Things are changing by the day, and I don't know about you but I am feeling very overwhelmed with keeping up with all of it!
Here in Illinois, our governor has issued a "stay-at-home" order. This means that we have been instructed to stay at home except for essentials. We want to do our part to flatten the curve, so we are going to be scaling back our order shipping for at least the next two weeks. We've been anticipating this announcement and making changes so that we do not have to completely stop order processing during this time.
We will continue to ship out orders as long as USPS and UPS are running. However, we want to reduce our impact on these shipping companies is order to ensure that essential health, safety, and food related products have priority. Therefore, we are anticipating longer processing times over the next few weeks. We are planning on shipping out orders 1-2 times each week, rather than every day.
If you would like to support our business, but don't need something right now, consider purchasing a Gift Card! We now have gift cards available on the website in $10, $25, $50 or $100 denominations. You can purchase a gift card for yourself, or send it to someone else! You will receive a unique code to use for purchase on our website anytime. Gift cards never expire, so you can take your time deciding what you want to purchase!
These are difficult times for so many people and businesses. Right now we consider ourselves lucky to have so many blessings and supportive customers that have purchased our products over the years. Thank you for your continued support in helping us flatten the curve! Stay safe everyone!